THE BADLY decomposed body of a Scots woman has been discovered in her flat where she has lain undiscovered for six years.
Anne Leitrim, who was in her 70s, had not been seen since 2008 and neighbours had assumed she moved out of the area because her home appeared empty.
Incredibly, two windows to the ground floor flat had remained opened in all that time.
Mrs Leitrim’s modest home is in a block of eight flats and even backs on to a communal garden that is regularly used.
Residents at the flats in Bournemouth, Dorset, joked it looked so abandoned there could be a body in it, unaware Mrs Leitrim was dead inside.
Her remains were finally found when bailiffs visited the property in the 1980s built
block to collect unpaid debts.
After getting no answer at the door they got into the property through one of the open windows before making the grim discovery.
Shocked neighbours have spoken of feeling guilty that it had taken such a long period of time for anyone to realise Mrs Leitrim was dead.
They described her as being friendly and softly spoken with a Scottish accent.
John Stanley, 55, who has lived in the building in the Throop area of Bournemouth for the eight years, said: “Everyone is so shocked.
“We didn’t think anyone was living in the flat. Her car went and we just thought she had moved out.
“There are cobwebs in the windows and we used to joke there could be a body inside but we had no idea.
“When the bailiffs and locksmiths came to the flat they entered the property through two windows that had been left ajar.
“The windows were slightly open and they used a coat hanger to get inside.
“The locksmith went in and said ‘I think there’s a body’. It was so decomposed he couldn’t tell.”
Ruth Evans, 59, who has lived in the building for six years, added: “It makes me feel guilty. You think of all the times we were out in the garden and she was just lying there.
“When her car disappeared we all thought she had moved away. When I heard there was a body inside I couldn’t believe it.”
Debbie Small, who has lived in the same street for two years, said: “It is really sad. It is a really friendly street and we all know each other. I can’t believe it.”
Last year TV presenter Esther Rantzen set up the charity The Silver Line - a free phoneline for old people who are lonely.
A spokesman for the charity said it was a ‘sad and shocking’ case.
A spokesman for Bournemouth coroner’s office said formal identification of the body had not taken place.
They said a post mortem examination will be attemped but it is highly unlikely to identify a cause of death.
It is thought they have been in contact with Mrs Leitrim’s next of kin.
A spokesman from Dorset Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious.